Business Headlines

Contracts Case Summaries

[12/08] Howeth v. Coffelt
Dismissing an appeal in a case where neighbors who shared a driveway couldn't peacefully enjoy their easement and sued each other, resulting in a settlement agreement that stipulated to the entry of a judgment to resolve the lawsuit and purporting to allow the parties to collect a fine for refusal to comply because the court's determination that it lacked jurisdiction to enforce the fine in a filing made on the original action because a consent judgment, such as occurs pursuant to a settlement agreement, is not appealable.

[12/05] ITV Gurney Holding, Inc. v. Gurney
Reversing the trial court's order reinstating the Gurneys, the producers of Duck Dynasty, to positions managing the day-to-day operations of the plaintiff company that they once owned and are the minority owners of, who had been fired from their roles as CEOs and removed from management, because the very operating agreement the Gurneys said gave them authority to manage actually gave the company, through its board, the ultimate authority and allowed them to remove the Gurneys from management, but affirming the preliminary injunction allowing them to continue as board members and barring the company from infringing their rights in that position.

[12/04] Joyce v. Maersk Line, LTD.
Affirming the decision enforcing a rate of unearned wages set forth in a collective bargaining agreement between a former employee and member of the Seafarers International Union against their prior ship, reversing the circuit's own precedent to hold that a union contract freely entered into by a seafarer will not be reviewed piecemeal by courts unless there is evidence of unfairness in the collective bargaining process.

[11/30] State Farm General Insurance Company v. Watts Regulator Co.
Affirming the trial court's denial of defendant's motion to compel arbitration in a case where the parties had signed an arbitration agreement with a third party many years prior that hadn't included product liability claims at the time, but was amended to include such suits in the intervening period because there was no vested right to arbitration where the parties agreed to the contractual terms and rules determined by a third party.

[11/29] R.W.L. Enterprises v. Oldcastle, Inc.
Reversing a trial court order granting a motion for attorney fees in a breach of contract suit because, although a later agreement between the parties did include an attorney fees provision, the contract that provided the basis for the suit lacked such a clause and the court erred in construing the two instruments together.

[11/28] Hutcheson v. Eskaton Fountainwood Lodge
Affirming the trial court's denial of a motion by a residential care facility to compel arbitration because the attorney-in-fact's decision to admit their ward to an elder care facility was a health care decision that they were not authorized to undertake, rendering the facility's arbitration clause unenforceable.

[11/27] Daewoo Electronics America, Inc. v. Opta Corporation
Reversing the district court dismissal of claims to recover unpaid debt from four entities affiliated with a company that had purchased DVD players from them because a New Jersey summary judgment ruling on a prior breach of contract claim did not preclude the company from bringing alter ego and successor liability claims, New Jersey's res judicata laws did not apply to a claim arising from a different transaction than the one that was the subject of the other suit, and the state's 'entire controversy doctrine' did not bar the claims from being heard in federal court in California.

[11/21] Laboratory Specialists International, Inc. v. Shimadzu Scientific Instruments, Inc.
Affirming the district court's dismissal of a lawsuit pursuant to the forum selection clause in the parties' contract because there was no procedural error and the court did not err in dismissing the plaintiff's tort claims or by refusing to conduct an analysis under discretionary forum non conveniens factors.

[11/16] Best Auto Repair Shop, Inc. v. Universal Insurance Group
Affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment dismissing the plaintiff's claims in the case alleging that insurance companies had unlawfully interfered with the plaintiff's right to make or enforce existing and prospective contracts with their insureds or third party claimants by excluding a repair shop and because the owner is black and Dominican because issues were waived or improperly pleaded.

[11/16] Best Auto Repair Shop, Inc. v. Universal Insurance Group
Affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment dismissing the plaintiff's claims in the case alleging that insurance companies had unlawfully interfered with the plaintiff's right to make or enforce existing and prospective contracts with their insureds or third party claimants by excluding a repair shop and because the owner is black and Dominican because issues were waived or improperly pleaded.

[11/07] Maine Uniform Rental, Inc. v. Nova Star
Affirming the district court's judgment limiting the in rem maritime lien claim of a Maine linen company that supplied linens for a cruise line that ended with a pile of unpaid invoices because such maritime liens can only apply to 'necessaries' and linens ceased to be necessary at the termination of the underlying agreement and inventory remaining in the linen company's warehouse was not 'delivered' in a manner as to create a maritime lien for its replacement cost.

[11/03] Ingham Regional Medical Ctr. V. US
In a government contracts action claiming underpayment for outpatient medical services provided for current and former military service members, the Federal Claims Court's dismissal for failure to state a claim is reversed where plaintiffs are not barred by bringing a breach of contract claim by a release included in the contract the government is accused of breaching.

[11/03] Orien v. Lutz
In an attorney's fees action arising from a partition case, the trial court's award of all fees to plaintiff under Civil Code section 1717 is reversed where the partition action did not fall within terms of the attorney fee provision of an earlier settlement agreement among the parties.

[10/26] Baxter v. Genworth North America Corporation
Affirming the trial court's denial of a motion to compel arbitration in a wrongful termination suit because they agreed that the arbitration agreement at issue was both procedurally and substantively unconscionable because signing the agreement was a condition of employment and the procedural deadlines shortened the statute of limitations, accelerated hearing procedures to the employee's disadvantage, and precluded the meaningful opportunity for prelitigation investigation.

[10/23] Insurance Brokers West, Inc. v. Liquid Outcome, LLC
Affirming the district court dismissal of a claim for breach of contract because the courts agreed that there was no chance that the plaintiff would recover more than $75,000 if they prevailed in the action and, as such, the claim did not meet the amount-in-controversy requirement for diversity jurisdiction.

[10/19] Collins v. Mary Kay, Inc.
Affirming the dismissal of a New Jersey case under forum non conveniens grounds because the plaintiff and the defendant Mary Kay Cosmetics had a contract that included a forum selection clause designating Texas as the forum for disputes and the interpretation of that clause required the application of Texas, rather than New Jersey law for determining its validity.

[10/05] Jameson v. Pacific Gas and Electric
In a labor and employment action, arising after plaintiff was allegedly terminated by his employer, PG&E, for retaliating against a safety inspector who raised issues about his project, the trial court's grant of summary judgment to defendant is affirmed where regardless of whether plaintiff was an at-will employee, PG&E established good cause for terminating him.

[09/29] Vitatech International v. Sporn
In a contracts action, the trial court's entry of a $300,000 judgment following defendants' failure to pay a $75,000 settlement on time is reversed where the judgment amount was an unenforceable penalty bearing no reasonable relationship to the damages reasonably expected from failure to make the settlement payment.

[09/26] Sargon Enterprises, Inc. v. Browne George Ross LLP
Reversing in part the trial court's confirmation of an arbitrator determination that a legal malpractice claim had been barred by an earlier release of claims entered into by the parties and that the filing of a malpractice action in superior court resulted in a breach of contract because the arbitrator erred in finding that an arbitration agreement included a promise to forego litigation because the plaintiff had a statutory right under the California Arbitration Act to seek a preliminary determination of arbitrability from a court.

[09/25] Mission Beverage Company v. Pabst Brewing Company, LLC
Affirming the trial court's denial of a beer brewer's motion to strike a complaint filed by a distributor who alleged breach of contract in the termination of their distribution agreement because the cancellation of a contract that is expected to be followed by negotiation and possibly arbitration doesn't qualify as protected activity under the anti-strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) statute and the ousted distributor's suit did not lack minimal merit on account of its termination and compensation clauses.

[09/25] Mission Beverage Company v. Pabst Brewing Company, LLC
Affirming the trial court's denial of a beer brewer's motion to strike a complaint filed by a distributor who alleged breach of contract in the termination of their distribution agreement because the cancellation of a contract that is expected to be followed by negotiation and possibly arbitration doesn't qualify as protected activity under the anti-strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) statute and the ousted distributor's suit did not lack minimal merit on account of its termination and compensation clauses.

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